Pakistani Bishops Emphasize Forgiveness in Wake of Oct. 28 Massacre

Also Issue Pastoral Directives to Clergy for Safety´s Sake

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, NOV. 11, 2001 ( Christ did not preach vengeance but forgiveness, the Catholic bishops of Pakistan said in a letter written after the Oct. 28 massacre at a church in Bahawalpur.

In the letter, the bishops of this overwhelmingly Muslim country condemn every form of terrorism, and thank John Paul II, civil authorities and the Muslim community for their solidarity.

The bishops also express deep concern for the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and pray that peace may soon be established in their country.

«In the meantime our Christian charitable organizations are doing their best to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan refugees and to those suffering inside Afghanistan,» the statement reads. «We exhort all to contribute to the President´s Fund, established for their relief and rehabilitation.»

Recalling that Christ is the only source of true peace, a gift of God, the bishops encourage special prayers for peace every day, in particular, the family rosary.

«We strongly believe that the sacrifice of the martyrs of Bahawalpur will not be in vain and we fervently pray that their blood may wash away the hatred and violence from the hearts of all people in our country so that we learn to work for the progress, prosperity and peace of all the people of Pakistan,» the bishops´ statement states.

The bishops also issued pastoral directives to clergy and religious, including instructions to move to safer places and keep a low profile. An emergency task force will be set up in dioceses to receive and verify reports of any disturbances and maintain close contact with law enforcement authorities and medical personnel.

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